‘The Zone of Interest’ – A Haunting Immersion and Inversion

The Zone of Interest is an award-winning historical war drama from acclaimed filmmaker, Jonathan Glazer, a true visionary and creative director whose films push boundaries and refuse to be neatly categorised. The mind behind cult classics Birth and Under the Skin, he’s known for creating visually-striking and deeply unsettling films that have a haunting and even mind-bending quality.

Glazer’s latest vision is no different, crafting a challenging, immersive and surreal film experience in The Zone of Interest. Blending the familiar with the alien, this mesmerising journey into the chilling world of Commandant Rudolf Höss and his wife Hedwig. Beyond their attempt to build a dream life for their family in a house and garden lies the Nazi concentration camp, Aushwitz.

The renowned director describes The Zone of Interest as “Big Brother in the Nazi house”. ‘Zone of Interest’ refers to the 40-square-kilometre area around the Auschwitz concentration camp on the outskirts of Oświęcim, Poland. A long-gestating adaptation, based on the novel of the same name by English author Martin Amis, it took a decade of contemplation to arrive at what’s described as a static, merciless and unblinking gaze.

The winner of the Grand Prix at Cannes, The Zone of Interest has also garnered five Oscar nominations including: Best Picture, Best International Feature, Best Sound, Best Achievement in Directing and Best Adapted Screenplay. An arthouse exploration of true cinematic power, The Zone of Interest is a bold, thought-provoking and unique

The Zone of Interest features Sandra Hüller and Christian Friedel, who described the filming experience as being under surveillance, required to perform in long, unbroken takes in front of fixed and partially hidden cameras. Hüller has had a brilliant year, finally getting recognition for her dependably strong performances, culminating in a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her role in Anatomy of a Fall.

When it comes to the Glazer’s honest and unique vision for The Zone of Interest, this was entrusted to two-time Academy Award nominee Łukasz Żal, responsible in part for Pawel Pawlikowski’s masterpieces Ida and Cold War as well as I’m Thinking of Ending Things and Loving Vincent.

An enigmatic puzzle box narrative that unfolds in a non-linear fashion, this mesmerising experience is bolstered even further by unforgettable characters who are deeply human and complex in this provocative exploration of identity. Staying on one side of the wall heightens the horror of the unseen, which while well-documented becomes even more disturbing through this inversion and “ambient genocide”.